Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling
In my early teens, I would have thought myself in heaven if presented with the choice of books available now in the young adult genre. Of course, given the sheer quantity of them being crammed onto supermarket shelves and adapted by film companies in a feverish hunt for the “next big trilogy,” only a small percentage of books in this genre manage to really stand out, but Joe Kipling’s Blinded by the Light manages this with aplomb.
When a terrorist attack tears apart the cosseted existence of teenager MaryAnn, bringing her into contact with the world beyond her gated community, she starts to question the foundations of her privileged existence. Blinded by the Light, the first book in the Union Trilogy, is one of the more political young adult dystopias. Kipling has an absorbing focus on the intricate structures of her imagined society, and expands upon a theme introduced by Aldous Huxley in his 1932 novel Brave New World. In Huxley’s novel, people were genetically engineered to be content in whatever level of society they were placed, the aim being to avoid war and social unrest. In Joe Kipling’s dystopia, the experiment in social engineering is constructed on a more tenuous basis. Her post-apocalyptic world, in which the Alphas live in luxury and the Deltas do all the hard work, is both dominated and undermined by fear of the Other, in this case the supposedly feral Echos. Sadly, such fictional worlds are sounding more familiar and less fantastical with every harrowing news report one reads.
Blinded by the Light is engaging, intelligent, and well worth reading. I am looking forward to the sequel, which I am informed by a reliable source will be out very soon. Watch this space!